(CNN Spanish) –– Expensive fines for wasting food: that is what the bill that the Council of Ministers of Spain approved this Tuesday to prevent food losses and waste proposes.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in 2020 alone, the country’s households wasted 1,364 million kilos and/or liters of food. This is equivalent to an average of 31 kilos and/or liters of food and a loss of US$ 267 per year per person.
Agriculture Minister Luis Planas said the government is confident Parliament will approve the bill this year and the law will take effect on January 1, 2023.
Planas, responsible for presenting this project to the Council of Ministers, argued that the goal is “to regulate the preferential use of food for human consumption and its donation to food banks. As well as raising awareness in society as a whole to avoid food loss and waste. In this way, Planas added, the government also intends to achieve the objective included in the United Nations 2030 Agenda of “reducing by 50%” the waste resulting “from retail sales and family consumption”.
The proposal establishes that all agents in the food chain must have a loss and waste prevention plan, which identifies where food loss occurs and what measures must be taken to avoid it. In case of not preparing it, the project considers this to be a serious offense and sanctions ranging from US$2,140 to US$64,000 can be applied.
In that sense, the initiative also aims to prevent any food from being wasted before the end of its useful life. For this reason, it requires companies that are part of the food chain to sign collaboration agreements with other companies, social initiative entities and food banks to donate and redistribute food. Secondly, it proposes transforming food that has not been sold, but which maintains its optimal conditions for consumption, into products such as juices or jams, among others. When they are no longer suitable for consumption, their use is suggested for the manufacture of animal feed or by-products such as compost and biofuels.
In the case of bars and restaurants, they would have the obligation to provide the consumer with containers to take away, at no cost, the food that they have not consumed.
Global food waste
In 2019, 913 million tons of food were wasted in the world, which is equivalent to 17% of everything produced that year, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). English). A waste that the organization calculates, in terms of money, in an annual loss of US $ 400,000 million.
However, these data contrast with global access to food. Precisely, the FAO calculates that around 811 million people suffer from hunger and 2,000 million have micronutrient deficiencies, that is, deficiencies of vitamins and minerals.
However, these figures could worsen in the coming months due to the war in Ukraine. As reflected by the FAO in its most recent Global Report on Food Crises, Russian hostilities may “aggravate already dire forecasts of food insecurity in 2022 […] given the repercussions of the war on world prices and supplies of food, energy and fertilizers”.
Specifically, the report notes that “many countries already facing food crises depend on imports of staple foods and fertilizers from Ukraine and the Russian Federation.” It added that “in 2021, the two countries accounted for a significant share of global food exports. wheat (33%), barley (27%), corn (17%), sunflower seeds (24%) and sunflower oil (73%)”.